Manil Suri, Mathematics, in India Currents

The Indian-American magazine India Currents is a monthly publication that focuses on exploring the heritage and culture of India as it exists in the United States. The magazine is published in three print editions across the U.S. in Northern California, Southern California and Washington, D.C. and is also accessible digitally. It has the largest circulation among Indian publications in the United States.


In its August issue, India Currents featured a cover story and discussion between Mathematics Professor Manil Suri and A.X. Ahmad, author of The Caretaker (IC, September 2013) and the recently-released The Last Taxi Ride—books one and two of the Ranjit Singh Trilogy. Suri is author of Death of Vishnu, The Age of Shiva, and City of Devi. The two authors discussed how Bollywood has influenced their writing. Below is an excerpt from the article in which Suri discusses how Bollywood resonates in the City of Devi:

The book is made to reflect on some of the larger-than-life aspects of Bollywood movies. The Superdevi herself arrives in one scene, she’s made up like a Bollywood star, and there are special effects and all of that. Once I got into this, the whole book became immersed in this Bollywood imagery….it was a deliberate playing with the genre. My book is about the end of the world seen through the eyes of Bollywood, and that was something I liked because it gave the novel the right flair. You don’t want the end of the world to be depressing! If you’re going to go out, go out in Bollywood style!

The magazine also featured a review of the City of Devi in which writer Jeanne E. Fredriksen wrote, “the story is beautifully told as an all-encompassing romance and present-day end time saga via alternating sections of Sarita’s and Jaz’s chronicles. Moreover, their stories internally alternate between past and present until there is nowhere to go but to move forward together.”

To read the featured article with Suri, “Bollywood Ties, Literary Knots,” click here. To read the review of City of Devi, click here.

Maria-Theresa C. Okafor, Sociology and Anthropology, Speaks at NIH

4D4A0646Dr. Maria-Theresa C. Okafor, Sociology and Anthropology and Center for Aging Studies, was a guest speaker during the opening plenary session of the 2014 Professional Development and Data Systems workshop held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from July 24-25.

Dr. Okafor, a Clinical Gerontologist and Epidemiologist specializing in health in the African Diaspora, discussed her research using national data from the New Immigrant Survey and the successes and challenges in translating quantitative research for policymakers to improve immigrant health and well-being. The two-day workshop sponsored by the Hispanic Serving Health Professions Schools (HSHPS), aimed to help prepare scholars interested in Hispanic health research strengthen their skills and knowledge to perform analytical studies of national and state health datasets to better contribute to Hispanic health care research and provision of adequate health care to Hispanics and other underserved populations.

Niels Van Tomme, CADVC, Named Curator of the 7th Bucharest Biennale

nielsvt_web1Niels Van Tomme, Visiting Curator of the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, has been named Curator of the 7th Bucharest Biennale (Bucharest International Biennial for Contemporary Art), to take place May 26 to July 17, 2016.

The Bucharest Biennale is interested in exploring links between creative practice and social progress, as well as correspondences between local and global contexts. Now in its tenth year, the Biennale continues to build a strong partnership between Bucharest—a geocultural space where the political is reflected in all aspects of life—and the rest of the world. In transcending specific geographical, historical, or political frameworks, it connects to a broader complexity, namely the one of “resistance” within the quotidian realm.

More information about the Biennale is available on its website.

Maurice Berger, CADVC, Latest “Race Story” in the New York Times

In the latest essay for his Race Stories column in The New York Times, Maurice Berger, research professor at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, examines Dawoud Bey’s intimate and powerful 2007 portrait of Barack Obama prior to becoming president. The essay is being co-published by the Hillman Photography Initiative at the Carnegie Museum of Art. “The photograph depicts its famously private and introspective subject only months before he was to step into the abyss of presidential politics. And it defines him free of the stereotypes and myths that have come to characterize his presidency,” observers Berger.

Read “Meditation on President Obama’s Portrait” and view the photograph at the New York Times Lens blog.

Berger’s Race Stories column has featured several essays centered upon race and photography, including Malcolm X as image maker, Ken Gonzales-Day, images of emancipation, the photographs of Deborah Will, and the civil rights work of James Karales.

Victoria Lentz ’15, Cybersecurity, Wins HP Scholarship

Earlier this year HP and the Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security (SWSIS) selected Victoria Lentz ’15, cybersecurity, and 10 other female cybersecurity students from across the U.S. to receive scholarships.

Lentz was in the first “cohort” of students to be accepted into UMBC’s Cyber Scholars Program, which began in Fall 2013. The program prides itself on influencing minorities and women to become involved in the cyber security and computing industries. With particular interests in malware and digital forensics, Lentz plans to work in the cybersecurity industry after finishing her undergraduate education to gain experience before returning to school for a Master’s degree.

UMBC Students Bike Across U.S. to Support Young Adults Affected by Cancer

Seven UMBC students are participating in the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults’ 4k for Cancer. Emily Ewing ’16, health administration policy, Eric Knapp, Tyler Stocksdale ’14, computer engineering, Harshini Chinnasamy ’14, biological sciences, Chris Moskal ’14, political science and global studies, Ashley Arnold ’15, mathematics, and Jessica King ’15, undergraduate studies, set out from Baltimore on June 1 and will ride their bicycles 4,000 miles across the country in 70 days to support, educate and connect young adults affected by cancer.

During their journey, the students will volunteer at hospitals and care facilities. Stocksdale spoke to The Gaston Gazette about their journey, saying, “You really have to take care of your body on the ride.”

Click here to read the article and here to follow their progress.

Phil Saunders Makes Professional Soccer Debut In Iceland

Former UMBC goalkeeper Phil Saunders has signed a contract with BÍ Bolungarvík of the Icelandic First Division. The former 2012 America East Tournament Most Outstanding Player made professional debut on July 19 and earned the victory in the team’s 6-4 victory over Tindastóll.

BÍ Bolungarvík stands at 4 wins, 6 losses and 2 draws with 10 games remaining in the league season, which concludes in mid-September.

Saunders is the lone American player on the squad. He joins Pete Caringi III (Oklahoma City Energy FC) and Kadeem Dacres (Arizona United FC) as three of UMBC’s four seniors from the 2013 America East title squad in the professional ranks.

“I am extremely happy for Phil and our UMBC soccer family,” said head coach Pete Caringi, Jr. “He has worked very hard for this moment and I can’t think of a more deserving player to represent UMBC. He will have left a soccer legacy along with fellow seniors Pete Caringi lll, Kadeem Dacres and Travis Dennis that will always be remembered for years to come.”

In 2013, Saunders was selected to America East Second Team and All-Championship Team for second consecutive season. He moved into second place on UMBC’s all-time shutouts list with 24, just one behind UMBC Hall of Famer Brian Rowland (’02).

Saunders finished second in the America East Conference and 19th in the country with a 0.70 goals against average. His career goals-against-average was 0.97 and the final record was 44-14-10 (.721).

Visual Ecology, Tom Cronin

A new book written by Tom Cronin and colleagues — the publisher’s note says:

“Visual ecology is the study of how animals use visual systems to meet their ecological needs, how these systems have evolved, and how they are specialized for particular visual tasks. Visual Ecology provides the first up-to-date synthesis of the field to appear in more than three decades. Featuring some 225 illustrations, including more than 140 in color, spread throughout the text, this comprehensive and accessible book begins by discussing the basic properties of light and the optical environment. It then looks at how photoreceptors intercept light and convert it to usable biological signals, how the pigments and cells of vision vary among animals, and how the properties of these components affect a given receptor’s sensitivity to light. The book goes on to examine how eyes and photoreceptors become specialized for an array of visual tasks, such as navigation, evading prey, mate choice, and communication.”

UMBC Recognized in New World University Rankings

The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) 2014 global list recognizes UMBC as one of the top higher education institutions in the world. CWUR places UMBC in the top 2.3% of 22,000 colleges and universities worldwide, at #505.

The CWUR global ranking assesses quality of education (alumni who have won major international awards); alumni employment (as CEOs in companies worldwide); quality of faculty (faculty who have won major international awards); research publications, influence and citations; broad impact; and international patent filings.

In addition to excelling in these areas, UMBC is home to a diverse global community of scholars — both students and faculty — and recently launched a unique Global Studies program. This major gives students the robust cross-cultural foundation they need to act on issues of global significance. UMBC also offers compelling interdisciplinary programs in Asian Studies and Africana Studies.

A remarkable number of UMBC students study and research abroad each year, including several with prestigious Fulbright awards. Numerous courses, research programs, and co-curricular programs also focus on international collaboration, including UMBC’s Engineers Without Borders initiative to help residents of Insongo, Kenya reliably access clean drinking water.

UMBC is one of three University System of Maryland institutions on the list, which also includes the University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore. U.S. institutions with a CWUR ranking similar to UMBC include George Mason University and Syracuse University. Clemson University, whose president is UMBC alumnus James P. Clements ’85, MS ’91, Ph.D. ’93, is also included in the list.

Click here to see the full rankings for the top 1000 institutions on the global list. The institutions include 229 U.S. universities, along with universities from dozens of other nations, such as China, Japan, the United Kingdom, France and Canada.

IMET Receives $600,000 Grant from Ratcliffe Foundation

The Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) received a three year, $600,000 grant from the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation to implement the Ratcliffe Environmental Entrepreneurs Fellowship Program. IMET is a research institute supported by UMBC, University of Maryland Baltimore’s School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

The fellowship program supported by the grant will help young scientists gain leadership and business skills that will allow them to introduce their research to a commercial market. IMET Director Russell Hill commented, “This is a tremendous opportunity not only for IMET but also for investors, business people and citizens in the region who will benefit from economic development flowing from this new program.”

Click here to read more.